REVIEW: Ranters Theatre Presents SONG

Contemplating nature – indoors

By Christine Moffat

Song seems to be about mimicking the natural, bringing the outdoors indoors, and by doing so, prompting us as an audience to examine our response to these elements.  This production is the creative collaborative result of Brazilian conceptual artist Laura Lima and UK musician James Tyson along with other Melbourne artists, and involves sitting or lying on pieces of synthetic grass, taking in perfumes designed to mimic natural scents, and admiring a lighting scheme inspired by the last hour before sunset. 

Photo by Sarah Walker

During this time, via various speakers placed around the space, songs by Tyson and ambient outdoor sounds designed by David Franzke are played.  This is all designed to immerse an audience, engage their senses and perhaps even to lull them.

Unfortunately, the combination of small synthetic grass mats and a very hard floor was not relaxing (for either lying or sitting); and made it difficult to give oneself over to the experience.  A scan of the room showed, in the majority, a physically uncomfortable audience shifting every two to three minutes in an attempt to find a better position.  This is the one key flaw in the production, as all the other elements offer a promising suggestion of relaxation and self-reflection.

It is a disappointment to this reviewer that this lack of physical comfort in the space does little to facilitate the intentions of Ranters Theatre in partnership with Monash University.  Artistically, every component of this show has clearly been constructed with much thought and creativity.  The lighting design by Stephen Hennessy in particular is exquisitely beautiful, and the perfumed air created by George Kara is lovely.  Sadly, the sum experience does not match the promising nature of each of its parts.

It is worth mentioning for logistical purposes alone, that the show is billed as a 7.30pm start, with a running time of 60 minutes.  Possibly due to it being opening night, the audience waited in the space for 20 minutes before the show started, and it had been running for 90 minutes when this reviewer left (along with about 2/3 of the audience).  At that point it seemed practically over, and staff had opened the exit doors, but there was no other indication that the show had in fact finished, and the soundscape of rain was still playing.

Venue: Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall 521 Queensberry St

Season: Sat 13 April – Sun 21 April 2013

Time: 7.30pm Tue – Fri, 2pm and 7.30pm Sat and 5pm Sun

Green Tix for Nix: 2pm Sat 13 April 2013

Tickets: $25 Full / $20 Conc / discount for 6+ groups

Bookings: artshouse.com.au or 03 9322 3713

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